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Auto and Other Accidents — When is an injury permanent?


If you have had the misfortune of being involved in a crash or incident where you have aggravated a pre-existing physical condition, do not believe the insurance representative if they attempt to persuade you into thinking you have no claim.  You do. Speak with an attorney to find out more about what rights you have and don’t take the insurance company’s word for it.

Many people are unaware of this, and mistakenly believe that if they already have a weak shoulder, a bad back, or some other physical ailment and they are involved in a car crash or some other incident where the condition is made worse, that there is nothing they can do about it.


The law provides for a recovery when a negligent person injures you in such a way that it results in a worsening or aggravation of an injury that existed before the accident. It is possible for you to suffer a temporary aggravation of a pre-existing injury and it is possible to suffer a permanent aggravation of that injury.

Temporary aggravation implies the injury is temporary or self-limiting, causing only a passing increase in symptoms, with no real persistent effect. This is sometimes referred to as an “exacerbation” and usually involves a limited period of impairment and medical treatment. Within a period of time, the person can return to his or her previous medical status and ultimately return to their employment.

Permanent aggravation occurs when an injury causes permanent changes in the natural course of an ongoing condition. A permanent aggravation alters the natural course of the pre-existing condition, accelerating and/or permanently worsening that condition, such that it will never return to the pre-injury state.

Often it is not possible to determine whether a person has suffered a temporary exacerbation or a permanent aggravation of a pre-existing injury until the injured person reaches “maximum medical improvement”.  You reach this stage when a physician is of the opinion your activities of daily living (ADL) will not improve in a year, with or without medical treatment.

When you are injured, the old adage of “walk it off” is not only ignorant, it shows bad judgment for your future and the future of your family. Go to your physician or to the hospital if you even suspect an injury. Be vigilant. Some injuries may take days, weeks or months to manifest into an injury from which you experience symptoms. This is particularly true in cases of traumatic head injuries and back injuries.

So protect your future. Be cautious about “brushing off” an accident and deciding you suffered no injury. Seek the opinion of a medical professional first.

Protect your future and consult a legal professional you trust before giving away rights by signing a release with an insurance company.

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